The Best Web Code Editors for Your Mac in 2013

Web development — and app development — is an ever-growing industry. Over at ThemeForest, there are thousands of website themes available because developers spend time coding them. But it’s not easy to construct one of those masterpieces. It takes knowledge, effort, and the right tools.

Here at Mac.AppStorm, we try to make sure you know about the latest and greatest in software machinery. The best software tools. Today I’m going to introduce you to ten of the best code and markup editors available on the Mac, from free feature-packed apps to paid workhorses. They’re first and foremost designed to help you code and write markup, but most are customizable enough that they can be great writing apps, too.

Let’s jump right in.

Textastic

From independent developer Alexander Blach comes Textastic, a minimal approach to markup editing. It offers such intuitive features as tabs which will allow you to multitask and transfer text from one document to another, code completion (auto-complete) for C, CSS, HTML, JavaScript, Objective-C, and PHP, TextMate syntax definitions and themes support, syntax highlighting for more than 80 languages, and, of course, Retina display support. While some editors integrate a preview window or mockup of the finished webpage, Textastic maintains its barebones theme by just being focused on the code itself.

For the economical price of $5.99, Textastic is a great editor for the beginner or focused developer who only needs a nominal set of features.

Price: $5.99
Requires: OS X 10.7 or later with a 64-bit processor
Developer: Alexander Blach

Brackets

You may not have known this, but Adobe has a small open source markup editor project called Brackets. It’s available on both Mac and Windows for free and receives updates every 2.5 weeks, according to the developer. There are always new features being added to it, but the current ones include tabbed editing, a fullscreen mode, a very handy live preview, and even a bunch of debugging features if the app has problems. The best part about this free tool is that Adobe wants you to hack it. The company is very supportive of any customization efforts you may have and will even take suggestions for feature integrations in a later release.

If you want your own custom markup editor, this is the best app you’ll get for free. Its possibilities are infinite, and it’s a code editor that actually looks nice.

Price: Free (open source)
Requires: OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Adobe

Sublime Text

Since 2008, Sublime Text has brought a series of great editing techniques to Mac, Linux, and Windows. It’s a universal “text editor you’ll fall in love with”, says the developer, John Skinner. The tabbed interface is not unlike that of Google Chrome. There’s a side-by-side mode for comparing documents. There’s a fullscreen mode available for concentrating, making it great for writers, too. Its most well-known feature is Goto Anything, which allows you to open files with a few taps on the keyboard, and will also locate any symbols, lines, or words in the document (though the multiple cursors feature might debate that most-well-known status).

Sublime Text is the pinnacle of code editors on the Mac, and it comes with a price tag to match: $70. You can try it for free, though, to find out if this is the experience you desire. And if you try out some of the themes, packages, and more for Sublime Text (just search GitHub for an idea of what you can get), and try some of the Tuts+ tips for it (or take their whole course on Sublime Text), you’ll likely be hooked.

Sublime Text is best for the individual who wants a utility that can edit any type of code imaginable. It’s not just built for the Web developer like most editors, but rather for the virtuoso. Like Brackets, this app has support for extension and lots of customization. There’s even a beta of the next Sublime Text ready to try, as well, if you’re brave and have shelled out for a license already.

Price: Free to try; $70
Requires: OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: John Skinner

TextWrangler

From Bare Bones Software comes one of the most powerful free editors on the market. It’s got side-by-side editing, multi-file search and replace, AppleScript support, FTP and SFTP integration, line collapsing, syntax highlighting for popular codes, OS X scripting support, and more. When compared to our other favorite free editor, though, it falls short in some areas. There is no live preview available and cool little features like Quick View (inline preview for colors) and extensions are not available. Still, it does support things like AppleScript and FTP, which can be incredibly useful. Also, the paid version of this app (BBEdit) has a lot of extra HTML tools.

TextWrangler is good for the individual who delights in having FTP/SFTP transferring support built-in, but doesn’t need any of those fancy preview features. The ideal user is someone who doesn’t use a GUI as much as command line.

Price: Free
Requires: OS X 10.6.8 or later
Developer: Bare Bones Software

BBEdit 10

Also from Bare Bones Software is BBEdit 10, the fully-featured version of TextWrangler. It includes a full set of HTML tools that add features like preview, code cleanup and checking, drag and drop image and file link creation, include and placeholder options for maintenance, and more. BBEdit also features a quick note-taking add-on called Scratchpad, intelligent code completion, a better organization system with Projects, and other nifty little features.

For $49.99, BBEdit offers support for more code types than Coda, but it’s not as good at Web development. If you’re focusing on this one category, you might be better off with one of the other tools mentioned here, if not TextWrangler.

Price: $49.99
Requires: OS X 10.6.8 or later
Developer: Bare Bones Software

Espresso

This one’s all about the user interface, which is beautiful. It’s a much lighter roast than the others, but boy does it know CSS3. After the developer took its CSS editor out of commission, it decided to put all the features in Espresso for a more beautiful and powerful experience. The app makes CSS editing a breeze by saving all the typing and providing you with a GUI. All the decoration and text options can be altered without a bunch of keystrokes, which might be better for people who don’t know very much code. There are also color pickers and fancy features like Quick Publish, which sends the file to your server upon finishing the edit.

Espresso is better for a developer who’s working with a lot of CSS. It has “improved” HTML5 language support as well, but the main attraction is definitely CSS. Remember, though, that it’s more expensive than Sublime Text, the king of markup editors.

Price: $75 (15-day trial available)
Requires: OS X 10.6.8 or later
Developer: MacRabbit

Chocolat

Complete with side-by-side editing, live error feedback, code completion, a go-to function, symbol jumping, line collapsing, and other innovative features, Chocolat is a lightweight editor for everything. The best of all is line collapsing because it takes a unique approach to distraction-free editing. Instead of blurring everything but the line you’re working on, this feature will allow you to fold away anything you don’t need to see so you can focus on other areas of the document. Another handy feature of this app is its included documentation. Rather than referring to a wiki or a cheat sheet, this will help you understand what your commands are doing.

Chocolat can help every user with its fun little features. For $49, it’s much more affordable than an advanced editor, but it doesn’t offer all the adorned features that they do, and if it does, they may be presented in a much different fashion.

Price: $49 (14-day trial available)
Developer: Alex Gordon and Jean-Nicolas Jolivet

TextMate 2.0

TextMate was once one of the best markup editors available on the Mac, but then development went stagnant. Now, version 2.0 is in alpha and the developer is keeping the app modern again. TextMate 2.0 holds a wonderful new tabbed interface, a symbol selector, support for 40 filetypes, fullscreen support for Lion, and line collapsing. It’s getting better with every release, but right now it’s not even in beta. So, while it’s free, give it a whirl. It may surprise you.

Price: Free (alpha)
Requires: OS X 10.7 or later
Developer: MacroMates

Coda 2

This isn’t a universal editor that’ll work for Objective-C or Ruby once in a while. It’s a workstation for Web developers featuring a customizable user interface, line collapsing, full server communication with S3, FTP, and more, iCloud sync for sites, live hints and completion to help you complete things faster, automatic indentation, and even an integrated MySQL editor. It’s the best of every editor brought into one massive utility — the Web developer’s dream. All of this will cost you the same as Sublime Text, but it does more than just edit markup languages.

If you’re investing in a Web development career, this utility may be the best all-in-one utility to buy. It can make your workflow much more simplified and eliminate the need to switch apps for file transfers. All for the price of the most popular markup editor.

Price: $74.99
Requires: OS X 10.6.6 or later
Developer: Panic Inc.

What are Your Favorites?

Well, that’s our list of this year’s best code/markup/text editors for the Mac, but we’d love to know what you use and why. Let us know in the comments below!


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